Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve compiled common questions we receive about certification below. If you don’t see your question, contact us!

African-American man working in plastics factory
Hispanic woman in charge at lumberyard in meeting

What is certification?

The Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) certifies small businesses owned and controlled by minority, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged persons. OMWBE certifies business in order to increase contracting opportunities for certified businesses with state and local governments.

Why should I certify my business?

For small businesses owned and controlled by minority, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged persons, certification with OMWBE provides a number of opportunities.

  • Many federal, state, and local government projects have supplier diversity goals. Your certification helps these projects meet their goals.
  • Certified businesses stand out to public agency buyers who want to support and do business with diverse firms at all levels of government.
  • Listing in OMWBE’s directory of certified businesses, where most government purchasing agents look first for diverse suppliers.
  • The Linked Deposit Program can help you pay up to 2% less interest on a qualifying small business loan.

How much does certification cost?

Certification through is FREE thanks to the generous support of OMWBE. 

Usually, new applications for certification range from $25–100 depending on your business structure. 

Renewals cost $50–100 depending on your business structure.

What types of certification are available?

OMWBE offers two general types of certification, federal certification and state certification.

Federal Certification

Federal certification is a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The purpose of these certifications to increase the participation of certified business on projects funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and other federal sectors. Projects typically include heavy construction, such as building and designing roads, bridges, railroads, ports, and airports. 

State Certification

State Certification is a program of the State of Washington. The purpose is to enhance business opportunities for certified businesses participating in state-funded projects or working with state agencies, local governments, school districts, and public universities. Projects include any work or product state agencies, or other entities, wish to buy from private companies. This includes a wide variety of different types of businesses, such as construction, consulting, training, translation services, supplies and equipment, and many other industries and services. 

Becoming state certified also makes you eligible to apply for the Linked Deposit Program which can decrease interest rates on small business loans up to 2%. 

What businesses can be certified?

To qualify for certification, the primary owner(s) must own at least 51% of the company and control the business. The owner must be both socially and economically disadvantaged. In general this means that the owner must be a woman or a minority and have a personal net worth under $1.32 million. Finally, the business must be small, and not have gross receipts of more than $28.48 million. 

How do I apply for certification?

Click here to start your certification. You’ll be asked to schedule an appointment with one of our certification specialists who will provide you with one-on-one support in preparing your certification application.